ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND LIVES! by Richard Ned Lebow

ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND LIVES!

A World Without World War I

KIRKUS REVIEW

An alternate history of how the world would have emerged if World War I had not occurred.

World War I brought devastation on the 20th century, mowing down an entire generation of young men, dismantling empires, introducing ethnic cleansing, disease, revolution and civil war, and, ultimately, sowing the rotten global political and economic yield that gave rise to Adolf Hitler. Yet seasoned political scientist Lebow (International Political Theory and War Studies/King’s Coll. London; The Politics and Ethics of Identity, 2012, etc.) reminds us that WWI was entirely avoidable and indeed reluctantly embarked upon by the prevailing powers: The retaliation by Austrian hawks against Serbia in 1914 after its directed assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand forced Germany’s hand. Caught between France and Russia, the German military was determined to knock out the former before the latter could mobilize. Russia, ripe for revolution and resolved not to appear weak, came to Serbia’s side, while France, bound to the Franco-Russian alliance, supported Russia. Germany invaded Belgium to get at France, thereby bringing Britain into the maelstrom. The assassination thus encouraged a “psychological environment” in which war was deemed necessary, yet what if it had been thwarted or at least avoided for a mere three years more? Lebow posits a plausible set of what-ifs: The 99 years of peace in Europe since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 could have gone on; the anti-war movement was strong; famines had subsided and economic progress was growing. Further, Germany would probably have evolved into a constitutional democracy, and the military spending would instead have been channeled into social and economic growth. However, writes the author, the survival of the various empires faced an uncertain future, and the United States would not have emerged as a world power.

Astute, challenging exercises in consequence and contingency.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-137-27853-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2013




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